Monday, 31 May 2010

Catching Up

Why haven't I blogged since last December?! Well, real life as opposed to screen-life caught up with me, I turned 70 in January and enjoyed a terrific party (about 80 people in a small house) organised for me by dear Maggie. She also completely surprised me with a wonderful festschrift cum birthday book to which 40 friends old and new contributed: this she produced brilliantly, in around 3-4 weeks just before xmas '09, with invaluable aid from the indefatigable Francophile and techno-wiz Ken Clay, editor of the wonderful Crazy Oik magazine, and webmeister co-editor of the equally splendid Penniless Press.

All this took quite some time to recover from. Then a couple of extra birthday treats, long- anticipated and early booked in 2009 – for January (Lisbon) and April (St Petersburg) – never got off the ground (thanks to snow and volcanic ash respectively). These unavoidable cancellations resulted both times in unexpected but delightful stays in London, with M and I ligging around, seeing various friends, exhibitions etc and enjoying some unplanned and very pleasant times. 

Since then, a stream of visitors to Exeter from France, Germany, Australia, and elsewhere, have made for a highly social year, all of which excitement hasn't prevented my writing quite a few new poems. A sizeable pamphlet of new haiku will come next, written since Haiku Of Five Decades last year, while a further full collection covering the last few years is also ready.

Less happily, quite a few friends, relatives and acquaintances have died during these last few months and various others are being treated for serious illnesses. (New Year resolutions to drink less and walk more, kept sporadically: seize the time is more like it!) But the year had begun dismally with massacres in Gaza; now, as May turns to June, the IDF has just attacked the convoy of peace ships, the international flotilla attempting to bring humanitarian aid and supplies to an area that has so long been suffering under Zionist blockade. Deaths and more suffering are the inevitable result, and the Israelis don't seem to realise or care that their illegal occupation and cruel bullying tactics continue to lose them the goodwill of most of the rest of the world. On which sombre note I'll close: I've signed petitions, written to Messrs Clegg, Hague and others, but verbal tut-tutting is not enough. What else can be done? BDS for a start – Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions – yet have our (or any) politicians the guts to demand or organise such action against Israel? I doubt it, though similar moves helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Meanwhile we must all protest and hope brute force does not in the long run prevail.

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